Reuters reported on Tuesday on talks between Turkey and Israel to export natural gas to Europe, via Turkey, from Israel’s largest offshore natural gas field Leviathan, according to a senior Turkish official. It was reported earlier on Monday that there’s also a plan to bring, with Israel’s help, gas from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey and Europe, and that was part of what angered Iran into striking the Kurdish capital Erbil with missiles this month.
Commenting on relations with Israel, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last week that gas cooperation was “one of the most important steps we can take together for bilateral ties,” and told reporters that he was ready to send top ministers to Israel to revive the pipeline idea that has been lingering for years.
Reuters cited a Turkish official who stated talks have been continuing since Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Ankara earlier this month, and that “concrete decisions” could follow in coming months on a proposed route and participating entities.
However, there are industry officials who have doubts saying production restraints and geopolitics could leave the plan dead in the water.
Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar told Ynet news on Sunday that many considerations are yet to be discussed, including the finances. “It needs to be found economically feasible, which is not something self-evident,” she said.
“Turkey is of great interest, for its domestic consumption as well as a channel to countries in southern Europe,” said a senior official in the Israeli gas sector.
Reuters also cited Iraqi and Turkish officials on Monday, stating that a nascent plan for Iraq’s Kurdistan region to supply gas to Turkey and Europe, with the help of Israel, is part of what angered Iran into striking the Kurdish capital Erbil with ballistic missiles this month.
The 13 March attack on Erbil was a rare publicly declared assault by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
IRGC said the strike hit Israeli “strategic centres” in Erbil and was retaliation for an Israeli air raid that killed two of its members in Syria.
However, the choice of target was widely discussed. Most of the 12 missiles had hit the villa of a Kurdish businessman involved in the autonomous Kurdistan region’s energy sector.
An Iraqi security official was cited: “There had been two recent meetings between Israeli and U.S. energy officials and specialists at the villa to discuss shipping Kurdistan gas to Turkey via a new pipeline.”
It was also reported that two Turkish officials confirmed talks involving U.S. and Israeli officials recently took place to discuss Iraq supplying Turkey and Europe with natural gas but did not say where they took place.
Again, an Iraqi security official, and a former U.S. official with knowledge of the plans, are reported to have disclosed that the villa hit by the Iranian missiles belonged to businessman Baz Karim Barzanji who was working to develop the gas export pipeline.
Turkish and Iraqi officials also commented on the issue without giving their names. The unnamed Turkish official said:
“Some talks were held for northern Iraq natural gas exports, and we know that Iraq, the United States and Israel were involved in this process. Turkey supports this too,” while the Iraqi security official said at least two meetings to discuss the issue, with U.S. and Israeli energy specialists, had taken place at Barzanji’s villa, which he said explained the choice of target for Iran’s missile strike.